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£25m Monks Cross shops plan set for go-ahead
A £25 MILLION expansion of a York shopping centre to include a new Primark store should be given the go-ahead, city planners have said.
Proposals to combine existing units at Monks Cross Shopping Park to create two anchor stores will be debated by City of York Council’s planning committee next week. The centre’s owners say the revamp is vital to securing its future.
Planning officers have recommended approving the scheme, 15 months after previous expansion plans for the centre were rejected. The Press revealed last week that clothing giant Primark wants to occupy one of the new stores, as well as opening a city-centre store in Piccadilly.
Two of Monks Cross’s current major tenants, Marks & Spencer and Next, will leave next year and move to the neighbouring Vangarde shopping complex.
Primark would take the unit formed by merging the existing M&S, Laura Ashley and Sports Direct stores, with a new Debenhams store created by combining outlets occupied by WH Smith and Topman, Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Evans.
The scheme is expected to create at least 112 new jobs at the centre, which currently employs about 1,000. York Civic Trust has objected to the proposals, saying that due to York’s current lack of a Local Plan development blueprint, national planning policy stating the need to protect the “vitality of town centres” should be followed. It said assessments by consultants had shown more out-of-town shopping would harm city- centre traders.
Agents acting for Monks Cross Shopping Park Trust said the centre’s retailers needed to “review their operations to respond to changing economic times and retail needs”.
They said Debenhams had to expand in response to the challenge posed by the Vangarde scheme, but would retain its Davygate store and consider a new store if a suitable city-centre site emerged, while Clarks, WHSmith and Sports Direct wanted new premises at the shopping park. Laura Ashley will move to nearby Julia Avenue.
In a report, council planner Diane Cragg said “every effort” must be made to bring Primark to the city-centre and ensure Debenhams retained a store there, but said: “The scheme offers an opportunity for a refresh of retail units to fit the expectations of modern retailers, contributing to the city’s ability to maintain its position in the regional retail hierarchy and continue to attract consumers from outside the city.”
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